It's a really popular topic nowadays, even more so than it ever has been. Quantum Computing (While still admittedly in its infancy) became an incredibly serious area of research this last decade - and I believe it will become one of the biggest things in the next decade. You might have an idea of what QC is, but it seems while there is a lot of popsci talk on the subject, few people really grasp the gravity of having it at our fingertips. Why is it so important? Well, lemme break it down for you.
What in The HELL Is Quantum Computing, Ginger Man?
Take it easy! I was about to tell you! Okay, so before we delve into what exactly QC is, we need to talk about what we have already - traditional electronic computing. Today, in every cell phone and computer, there are literally BILLIONS of tiny little switches. These tiny bois are called transistors, and they make up the "brains" of the computer - primarily in what we call the CPU. If you're a miner, you'll also know that these little transistors - when put together in the billions - also make up your GPUs and your ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuit) and are responsible for doing all the super hard complex mathematics that it takes to say, run through tthe trillions of hashes necessary to mine Bitcoin. And Good News Everyone, They're getting TINIER. However, for reasons that are Economically demanding, as well as physical limitations, we are rapidly getting to the point where making transistors any smaller will be either physicaly infeasible or just too costly to bring into the market. In short, we are running out of space at the smallest levels to make things faster. The major reason? The size of the silicon atom as well as quantum effects that can cause a lot of problems with these babies. There are some other options in the works such as Photonics, which uses LIGHT instead of electrons to get the pixies flowing to Pornhub, but they're sadly still a bit experimental, and consumer products are still a little ways away.
But... What if you could use some REALLY weird quantum mechanical properties to perform computations? Well, That's what a lot of big names such as Google, IBM, et. al. are trying to do. And they are really getting shit stirred up in a good way.
BUT WHAT THE HELL IS IT? Quantum computers take advantage of something called superposition in their version of computer bits called "qubits", which have the ability to be in the "on" or "off" state - 1 or 0 - simultaneously. These guys can be entanlged with other guys, and instead of say, doing one operation, it allows you to go through a whole space of operations. In the right setup, this allows us to basically do computations an Assload faster than traditional computers. It is an extremely complicated subject, but the basics are clear - a mature quantum computer will make today's supercomputers look like little bitches. If you're a traditional computer, the quantum computer is the guy your girlfriend tells you not to worry about.
They're Just Friends...
The Current State of Quantum Computing
As of right now, the current experimental setups are have only a handful of qubits at the moment (Google's Sycamore has 54) and with these Paltry numbers, Google was able to solve a problem in 200 seconds that they say would take over 10,000 YEARS for a traditional super computer to solve (though, IBM has tried to burst their bubble, stating that the particular problem they solved could have actually been done in 2.5 days. But still, Goddamn that's fast). Because of this, Google has laid claim to the title of "Quantum Supremacy" which basically means they have the biggest Quantum Dick, and they have sufficient rights to wave it around in front of people.
But We All Know Who REALLY Has the Title...
Despite all this, we are not quite there yet. There are a lot of roadblocks ahead, but progress is being made slowly, but surely. Using my patented crystal balls, I fully expect that quantum computing will likely be sufficiently matured and in dissemination in approximately 20 years or so. This will be a really a big time in the history of human technological innovation, and for many really good reasons (and some bad but we will get to that). Let me give you a glimpse into the world of tomorrow...
It is The Year 2040, We have Quantum Computers. What Now?
So, the first thing you need to know is that for a while, quantum computers are gonna be the ENIACs of the future. Meaning, these machines will take up a lot of space and infrastructure (auxiliary computers, extremely low temperatures, etc.) that will honestly be out of reach for the average person to have in their homes. This means that there will be "clusters" or specific places like today's server farms. This means that quantum computing will be available to companies and the everyday Joe in much the same way cloud computing is available today. You submit code you want run on the QCs, they run it really fast, and they send you the results to say, a hosted platform. Economies of scale will make web integration possible, and so it could possibly be used for all kinds of fun web applications.
The most important and most exciting applications of quantum computing in the coming years will be its use in materials science and medicine. See, a big part of the development pie when it comes to new materials is simulating them under various conditions. Everything from more efficient solar panels, to materials that will make photonics possible to supple, more lifelike skin and brains for your sexdoll will ALL be within reach once we are able to throw the computing power at it to get that simulating and experimentation done.
I Know Which One You're Waiting For. Sinner.
Not only that, simulations of proteins and other molecules will become a breeze, opening the door for the new medications and brand new methods of anything from gene therapies to cancer treatments. Artificial intelligence will see a HUGE boom with the advent of QC, and in ways that many of us are probably not yet ready for. As a side note, I will not go the way of Kurzweil and suggest that this would eventually lead us to the so-called "Technological Singularity", but it will lead to great advances that will make today's AI seem rather simple. How about a nice personality for your skin-upgraded sex doll?
If it sounds too good to be true, it isn't. This can very well become a reality. There are a ton of applications, and some companies are already on their way to getting there.
But what of Blockchain and Crypto?
The Crypto Problems.
Many of you might understand the first and immediate problem to easily accessible quantum computing; once it becomes possible, your standard issue cryptography is boned beyond measure. Wouldn't be nice to do just a little bit of calculation, and own ALL the bitcoin? You'd wreck the system. Obviously, that won't do for bitcoin or any other crypto out there, and so there is research being done as well as entire cryptocurrencies based around making sure they can make shit secure now. Whether they will be successful is still up for grabs, but I'm pretty confident about it.
That being said, the tangential advancements made in materials could bring in a new era of super-fast, energy sipping photonics processors that may not be as badass as the QCs, but will still make today's traditional computers pale in comparison. Mining could become ridiculously simple, even without access to Quantum Computing. That would be exciting, and in its own way make for a "Second Tier" array of consumer products that would revolutionize gaming, simulations, and even AI. Imagine having a smartphone that's even thinner, hardier, and faster than what you have today and lasts for a week on a single charge. That could become a reality.
Imagine being able to practically mine say, 10 different cryptos while watching Youtube. That is a future I want. In fact, that could be a future you want too! Cryptocurrencies and the effects of quantum computing may not necessarily be a tragic story, but a strong partnership that could literally raise the standard of living for damn near everyone in the world! Access to mineable currencies, better internet though better materials and technology, and increased TPS times could be auxiliary outcomes from the use of QCs. I see it as potentially offsetting the bad things that come with QC, such as increased autmation and efficient logistics, which could potentially shit on service and retail industry employment. Why have a mere human take your order at McDonald's when a friendly, fast, and efficient AI/Robot could do it for you? We are getting close to that already! Ever used a self check out at Walmart? It's closer than you think.
If we were far reaching enough and extended our initial timeline to say... 50 to 100 years, we would probably see what some call a "post scarcity" society arise from these developments. That's when things get incredibly interesting. I want to get into that, but I think that should be for another time because there will be a LOT to cover in order to make that case.
But, if you're a crypto enthusiast like me and you think the Quantum Computing horizon might pose an issue for blockchain tech, I think you should rest easy. The counter-advances will come in that field, and our Magic Internet Money should be pretty SAFU as time goes on. Keep on Adopting and investing; you're on the bleeding edge of a new world.
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